[ o-sten-suh-buh l ]
/ ɒˈstɛn sə bəl /


outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended: an ostensible cheerfulness concealing sadness.
apparent, evident, or conspicuous: the ostensible truth of their theories.

Nearby words

  1. osteitis fibrosa cystica,
  2. osteitis fungosa,
  3. ostempyesis,
  4. ostend,
  5. ostend manifesto,
  6. ostensibly,
  7. ostensive,
  8. ostensive definition,
  9. ostensively,
  10. ostensorium

Origin of ostensible

1720–30; < French < Latin ostēns(us), variant of ostentus (see ostensive) + French -ible -ible

Related forms
Can be confusedostensible ostensive

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ostensible

British Dictionary definitions for ostensible


/ (ɒˈstɛnsɪbəl) /


apparent; seeming
Derived Formsostensibility, noun

Word Origin for ostensible

C18: via French from Medieval Latin ostensibilis, from Latin ostendere to show, from ob- before + tendere to extend

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ostensible



1762, "capable of being shown, presentable," from French ostensible, from Latin ostens-, past participle stem of ostendere "to show, expose to view; to stretch out, spread before; exhibit, display," from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + tendere "to stretch" (see tenet). Meaning "apparent, professed" is from 1771.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper